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Iraq in control of 50 percent of Tikrit: Colonel

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The Iraqi army together with volunteer forces have regained half of the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit from the ISIL Takfiri militants following heavy firefight in the strategic city, an Iraqi police colonel says.

“We are surrounding the gunmen in the city center,” the colonel, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said on Friday.

“We’re advancing slowly due to the great number of IEDs (improvised explosive devices),” the Iraqi colonel said, adding, “We estimate there are 10,000 IEDs in the city.”

Press TV’s correspondent (pictured below) near the strategic city also confirmed that the Iraqi forces and the Shia and Sunni volunteers have liberated half of Tikrit. She said Takfiri militants are mainly holed up in the city center.

She also reported that Iraqi tanks are pounding the area under control of terrorists.

According to the correspondent, two snipers of Saudi nationality were killed in the southern part of the city.

Advances in the northern area of the city especially in the al-Qadesiyeh area are reportedly slow because of the presence and activities of many Takfirs snipers there.

Heavy clashes are also under way around the University of Tikrit, where operation at the direction of the center of the city is set to start.

Fatah and Hawija areas are reportedly the scene of heavy clashes as well.

On Thursday, the Iraqi security forces recaptured the presidential palace’s complex, the industrial neighborhood as well as general and military hospitals in Tikrit.

This is while the ISIL terrorists continue to use explosive-laden cars to target the Iraqi army’s line of defense in a bid to slow down its advances.

Meanwhile, Iraqi officials said the ISIL group is killing its wounded members because it cannot treat the injured terrorists.

Earlier this month, some 30,000 Iraqi troops started large-scale operations to recapture Tikrit, which is the birthplace of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The volunteer forces, which include both Shia and Sunni members, have also joined the operation.

Located some 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad, Tikrit was overrun by the ISIL terrorists in the summer of 2014 along with Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, and other areas in the Arab country’s Sunni heartland.

Tikrit has a strategic position as it sits on the road to the ISIL stronghold, Mosul.

The ISIL terrorists, many of whom were initially trained by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, now control parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria. They have been engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control.

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